September 25, 2005

Five questions for Jim Irsay

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, who took control of the team after his father's death in 1997, was interviewed at Tuesday's groundbreaking for a new Downtown stadium. The $500 million retractable-roof facility will open at the start of the 2008 football season; the Colts are kicking in $100 million.

1. What are you going to do with your shovel?

I'll give it to my daughter. She had to study, so she couldn't come.

2. We've seen the drawings for the stadium. Do you like it?

I love it. This is a big moment for the Colts and for the city of Indianapolis. I think it connects with down-home roots we have here, but it's also very futuristic. It's going to be a state-of-the-art facility.

3. How important is the retractable roof?

I think it's a huge part of it. What you struggle with, being in a small market, is, let's say we sell every ticket and every suite so we're sold out. We'll still be only 19th in the league in terms of gross revenues. It's really important that we have a state-of-the-art facility, and open-air football was a big part for our fans. But the NCAA certainly had to have a dome, as well, and for us to be a Super Bowl candidate we had to have one.

4. Are the Colts contributing enough to the project?

It's an unprecedented amount for any sports franchise. When we first came here, we contributed nothing, and our contribution now is more than it cost to build our old Dome. A lot of stadiums didn't have a contribution -- Cincinnati didn't. St. Louis didn't. Tampa Bay didn't. They were 100 percent publicly funded. When you contribute a $100 million to a structure you're not going to own, it's a large commitment.

5. How soon before we have a name for the stadium?

That's a good question. There's only so much (money) in a small market. We're beginning to talk to people -- it's at the very early stages.

Michele McNeil

Copyright 2005 All rights reserved